In September, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and said “under our plan no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion.” Currently, however, all three health care reform proposals in Congress mandate abortion funding to varying degrees.Â Recognizing this, President Obama now seeks to clarify that by “our plan” he did not mean the actual proposals in Congress, but his “own” plan.
But the context of President Obama’s statement does not support that understanding. Â
It was not an off-the-cuff remark.Â The statement came in a carefully planned speech to a joint session of Congress.Â It was made before the House and the Senate that had already produced two of their three versions of health care reform legislation ““ both already including language about abortion funding.Â The President and his staff chose the words he used and their placement in his speech.Â Â
The President could have said “my plan” or “the plan I want you to create” or even “the only plan I will sign onto” will not fund abortion.Â But he did not.Â President Obama chose to say “our plan.”Â
Furthermore, the assertion came in a segment of the speech dedicated to “clearing up misunderstandings.”Â A rational understanding of this section of his address would be that it was the President’s reaction to statements made about the bills that existed at the time: H.R. 3200 and the Senate HELP bill. Â Both bills that require federal funding of abortion.
If President Obama sought instead to announce that he personally no longer supports funding abortion ““ a departure from his own campaign promises– he could have, and should have, made that crystal clear in his address.Â
Several other statements by the President and his aides support the conclusion that what he meant was the proposed bills in Congress would not fund abortion, that the Hyde Amendment barred such funding.Â The Hyde Amendment, however, does not apply to health care reform.Â
Perhaps the President was initially confused on this point.Â But the White House inexplicably continues to repeat the proven false claim that federal law already precludes health care reform legislation from funding abortion.Â There is no excuse for these misleading statements now.
If President Obama really does not want Congress and the American public to “misunderstand” the issue of abortion funding and actually ensure that “his plan” will not fund abortion – he must do two things: 1. He and his aides must stop making false claims that abortion funding is somehow already prohibited and 2. He must tell Congress that he will not sign any legislation without explicit language prohibiting abortion funding.
Otherwise, under whatever he meant by “our plan,” federal dollars will be used to fund abortion.